Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

The enlightened program manager—partnering with change management
June 13, 2013, 8:08 am
Filed under: - People Change Management

enlightened pmThere are three basic key players in strategy execution: the leader, the program manager and the change management lead.

What if we partnered?

It all starts at the beginning.

The reality in most organizations is that strategy is parsed into Strategic Business Units and/or Divisions and the leader assigns it to a program manager to organize (I am not endorsing this approach―I have other thoughts here). This cascade is often one-directional and the change management lead is buried deep in the project with very little access to the leader.

In transformational change, where ROI depends on people, at all levels, changing the way they think and what they do, change management takes on a heightened priority. These shifts in mindsets and behaviors, and sometime shifts in culture, cannot be dictated or taught. Rather, they must be led. The leader and the change management lead need to collaborate directly to achieve success.

Imagine what might happen if, when program managers resourced a project, they tee-ed up change management (CM) differently?

1.  What if the program manager identified the senior change management practitioner he or she wanted to work with and introduced the person to the leader this way:

  • “We have identified a terrifically qualified CM practitioner. We just need you to sign off on one criteria: Is she a fit for you?
  • The CM practitioner’s role is to help all of us address the human risks involved in implementing change. The CM practitioner will be our guide in identifying issues and opportunities and in designing interventions. Often the interventions have to come from you to be most effective. The CM practitioner will be your coach, so it is important that you develop a close working relationship.
  • When can I schedule an interview for the two of you?”

2.  And if the CM practitioner entered the conversation with the leader this way:

  • “I have reviewed the initiative and I have significant related experience….
  • Based on that experience, and acknowledging that every organization and initiative is different, I expect that we will encounter issues such as….
  • This is likely to require activities from you such as….
  • Does this seem likely to you? What other issues do you anticipate?
  • The way I work is this… [spell out what you need to be successful as specifically as you can—have a look at this post from Daryl Conner “Addressing Sponsor-Agent Relationship Issues (free download)”]
  • What else do you need from me? How do you like to work?
  • Do we think we can partner up on this work?”

3.  And what if, once retained, the relationships took on a deep partnering for success, including:

  • Information sharing,
  • Brainstorming,
  • Dynamic and collaborative decision making,
  • Testing and learning cycles, and
  • Feedback loops.

What if you sent this to your favorite program managers and asked them to take it into consideration next time around?

It might open productive conversations and whole new working relationships with them. They may want to negotiate a few parameters in the beginning to get comfortable with this dynamic, but that should be quite achievable.

What are you waiting for? Do you want to be successful? You already know what it takes. Require it.

Related Posts:

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4 Comments so far
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Or… what if the leader contacted the senior change practitioner and together they worked with both internal and external specialists (project management, SME’s, training design, communications, etc.) well ahead of any announced dates or specific approaches.

Anything middle of the organization up or picking the change consultant after planning has begun has inherent problems.

Admittedly your scenario Gail has a better chance of happening.

Comment by Garrett Gitchell

Great points, Garrett.

If leaders recognize that transformational strategy needs to be led (really led) and are so engaged, that is definitely optimal.

However, most often, all strategies are treated the same, i.e. as if they were straightforward tactical implementations, and are delegated to PMs. Hence our conversations often start here.

One more thing that PMs can do: be very clear with leaders as to the different attributes, risks and requirements of transformational change.

Comment by Gail Severini

“Most strategies are treated the same”. That I hadn’t thought of.
Think of the opposite- “treating strategies different”.
Then, as consultants, we could both address the specific change AND help the organization build for the next change.

Comment by ggitchell1

[…] Severini’s post today, “the Enlightened Program Manager-Partnering with Change Management” got me […]

Pingback by All Strategy is not the Same - The Change Management Blog

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